Higher Education Bubble?

There is ample debate and conversation today about whether or not the higher education market is a bubble about to burst, just as the housing market burst a few years ago and the dot com bubble burst before that. I read an editor’s column by Rob Preston in Information Week that tipped me off to it, and then found two articles (A and B) in The Economist that describe the debate and weigh in on it. Mainly, people are noticing the steadily rising cost of a college degree out-pacing inflation and salaries. There’s also the fact that national student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time last year.

Preston suggests that technology could be a dynamic change agent in this industry. (I’m hoping so and working toward that end.) Technology isn’t so prevalent in the housing industry, but it’s really making inroads in higher ed. Of course, his argument is for web-based, online education changing the sector similarly to how the Internet has changed the publishing and financial industries. But OWU does not offer online courses.

However, OWU has many tech resources to augment traditional classroom learning: campus-wide WiFi, Google Apps, wikis, Blackboard, multi-function devices, and increasingly tech-savvy faculty. Moreover, our travel learning courses, Sagan National Colloquium, and Theory into Practice programs really expose our students to more than a traditional college campus. Despite our current budget shortfall, I feel Ohio Wesleyan is a good position to weather the potential storm.

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